I’m best known as an indie comic book writer, but recently I’ve begun to stray back to my first love, prose. I have a number of ideas in the works and I’m actively writing a short story collection set in the same world as ‘Cognition’ and a long-form novel about dystopian commercialism.
My aim is to complete both manuscripts this year and begin seeking representation.
Below are a selection of essays that have been cribbed and edited from my ongoing email newsletter ‘Sequential Reasoning’ (you can sign up for it at the bottom of the page). It’s a mixed bag of creative process, personal insight, pop culture musings and fierce self promotion!
I hear tell of some people that write for themselves. It’s a leisure activity, maybe a form of catharsis? But they write in the knowledge that nobody will ever read their work. The act itself is the aim, the doing is enough. I love this idea, and it is something I have been trying to apply to my creative output. Especially with publishing comics. The act of making a book, realising it should be the target. What happens once it’s complete is largely out of the creators control. You can’t guarantee anyone will be interested, you can’t guarantee anyone will read it and you certainly can’t assume anyone will enjoy it, review it, pass it on, want to tell a friend, publish and distribute it for you, nominate it for an award or offer you a job off the back of it.
See how these things snowball?
So knowing I make books I want to make and knowing they exist HAS to be enough right now. Feeling accomplished by the aspects of your activities over which you have no direct control seems to me a very healthy perspective to keep. If I base my happiness on everything about it that I have no bearing at all… Surely I’m setting myself up for disappointment?
Which brings me back to the WHY of it all.
The last month or so has been a bit more of a whirlwind than usual. There have been some big shifts in the dynamic of how my personal life works. My lovely wife has a new job that involves a lengthy commute so I’ve taken on the mantle of child wrangling solo during the work week. It’s the closest I ever hope to come to being a single parent! Needless to say it’s been a large adjustment for all of us, including huge organisational shifts that affect the amount of sleep we get, the amount of time we spend together as a family and generally how our domestic setup ‘runs’.
Of course, I’ve been running a Kickstarter campaign, working full time and doing freelance work while all of this has been happening. It’s been an interesting challenge, that so far has been a lot smoother than any of us expected
To me it seems quite often in life the worries you have going into any particular situation are never the problems that actually end up causing strife. At heart, I’m a problem solver. I can roll with a situation and figure out a plan at the drop of a hat. My wife is a planner. She risk assesses a situation and tries to prepare for worst case scenarios. Going into this lifestyle shift we felt prepared and at a certain point we simply shrugged and told ourselves that we would figure things out as we go. I have more than enough confidence in us as a family unit to be able to do this, so I was quite laid back about it. To me the whole thing hinged on my wife making a situation work that she is excited and passionate about… A sucker bet (against) for anyone that doesn’t know her well.
It’s been a challenging few weeks… I’ll do my best not to let this all collapse into an awkward over-sharing polemic. Low moods hit me now and again. I get short bursts of depression but I ride them out quite well, I think. I tend to do it quietly. I shut myself off a bit and tend to work through it with introspection, which seems to help me rather than deepen it. I think this is the case for me because my depression seems to be situational rather then endemic.
So I was feeling a bit overwrought already when I was happily sorting out my comics, sitting on the floor and putting them away in boxes. I had the temerity to lift some books and turn around in just the wrong way for my body to protest. I have a long and storied relationship with my spine (including multiple surgeries), we fall out, we make up, we get along and sometimes everything collapses. This little twist at the wrong moment has caused me about a fortnight of immense pain. Obviously this has not improved my mood.
It’s half-term right now, which is a bit of a surprise, as I remember vividly the angst and stress we went through when our daughter started school. All in all she has settled in remarkably well. To begin with she had attachment issues being left there. I had to be a bit cold and leave her in tears a few times, it’s not nice. I’ve been trying to pare down the whole ‘goodbye’ routine by moving closer to the door, eventually only going as far as the hallway outside her classroom. I see plenty of kids abandon their parents in the playground and run into the school. I couldn’t help wondering if we might ever get to that point.
The school run is a strangely comforting routine and the one-on-one time I get with my daughter is precious… Especially this week. After reading a book to her that tried to use a joke around ‘Welcome to the Jungle’, I introduced the Guns ’n’ Roses song. It went over rather well, but turns out that song doesn’t stand up to repeated listening. We have now segued into AC/DC. There is nothing cuter than watching your young offspring nod along enthusiastically to Back in Black.
Last weekend in the UK was extended by a Bank Holiday on Monday. Just an extra day off for some. I currently don’t work Fridays to look after my daughter (soon to change when she begins school next week, ARRGGHHH!) This meant I had 4 days free of ‘day job’ and a few possibilities for blocks of time to write. I’ve got plenty of writing stacking up now, and I usually do it in bursts rather than a continual process… Writing in this case being scripting. Everything is outlined etc, I use notebooks and notation apps to gather and cultivate, now I’m needing to blurt it all out in script form. I’ve been waiting to do this for a few weeks now and I can’t seem to sit down to it properly.
Thursday evening. My wife and I were going to watch the final episode of the Defenders once the little one was asleep and I was going to have a few hours hard work on scripts. Cue our daughter vomiting all over her bedroom floor while putting her pyjamas on.